How to Be a Friend to Trans Folks Without Putting Your Foot in Your Mouth: A Short Guide for Cis People

kiriamaya:

This goes out to all the cis people who, it’s quite obvious, want to help and befriend trans people, but who keep alienating and angering us instead. I’ve seen the befuddled looks on your faces when this happens, and I thought I’d try to clear a few things up for you. Let’s look at some common scenarios in which well-meaning cis people screw up with the whole pro-trans thing, and look at how some of these could go differently:

Scenario: You see someone whose gender you can’t determine just by looking at them. You want to make sure that you’re respectful of their identity.

Wrong Way to Ask: "Are you a man or a woman?"
Phrasing it this way will put the trans person on the defensive, and make them feel like you’re questioning and possibly even attacking their gender. It can also make them feel highly insecure about their gender presentation.

Right Way to Ask: "What pronouns do you prefer?"
This phrasing makes it clear that you intend to respect the person’s gender identity, regardless of what they look like. It shows an acknowledgment that the onus of respect is on you, and not their presentation or “passability”.

Scenario: You have just made an insensitive joke about trans people in the presence of your trans friend. You didn’t mean to hurt them, and you weren’t even thinking about them when you made the joke, but now the relationship is strained and you want to try to repair it.

Wrong Thing to Say: "Come on; it was just a joke! Lighten up!"
This tells your friend that you don’t take their pain seriously, and that you don’t think they should take it seriously either. It sends a message that trans lives and trans experiences matter less than your feelings of guilt and unease at being called out.

Right Thing to Say: "That was really thoughtless of me. I’ll try not to do it again."
Nine times out of ten, your friend will know you didn’t mean to hurt them. Most people don’t. But they need you to understand that you have hurt them. They need you to know this, not so you can stew in guilt, but so all involved can heal and move on.

Scenario: Your trans friend doesn’t “pass”. You think you can see what they’re doing wrong, and you want to help.

Wrong Thing to Do: List off all the things they’re doing “wrong”, and tell them how to fix them.
Trans people’s self-esteem is rocky enough as it is. By focusing on all the ways in which they look different from cis people, you are not only causing anxiety and dysphoria for the trans person, but also reinforcing the idea that trans people are “lesser” or “fake”. Besides, your friend may not even see “passing” as a desirable goal, in which case you are getting up in their face for no reason at all.

Right Thing to Do: Mind your own damn business.
If your friend wants you to help with their image, they will ask you. Regardless, respect their gender identity unconditionally.

Scenario: You’ve messed up a trans person’s name/pronouns. You didn’t mean to, but you can see the anguish on their face, and you want to make things right.

Wrong Thing to Say: "I’m sorry; it’s just that you’re still [previous name] to me!"
Of all the things you could possibly say to a trans person, this is among the most hurtful. It’s one thing to struggle to accept someone’s identity; it’s quite another to impose the wrong identity on that person in order to excuse your difficulty.

Right Thing to Say: "I’m sorry. I’ll keep trying."
Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone has difficulty adapting to a major change in another person. What’s important is that you try, and that you correct yourself when you mess up. That’s all anyone can reasonably ask; at the same time, it’s  the least you can do.

Scenario: You’re framing a health issue in terms of a specific gender (e.g., framing menstruation in terms of women), and a trans person points out that it isn’t necessarily unique to that gender and/or that they’re being left out of the discussion by your framing.

Wrong Response: "Well, BIOLOGICALLY speaking, it really does only affect [gender]."
Framing gender solely in terms of biology is always hurtful to trans people, no matter what the context. It’s even more hurtful when people who are strongly affected by an issue are deliberately erased in discussions of it.

Right Response: "Good point. I’ll try to remember it."
We’re all soaking in narratives that mash all the complexities of gender into two discrete categories, so it’s understandable that you’d initially think in those terms as well. But expanding your mind is never a bad thing, especially when it means including people who need/deserve to be included.

Scenario: You’ve known your trans friend/relative by one gender all your life, and now, all of a sudden, they’re asking you to call them by a different name and pronouns. This comes as a shock, and you feel like you don’t know them anymore; you feel like they’ve died and some new person has taken their place. Yet you want to stay in relationship with them, somehow.

Wrong Thing to Do: Categorically refuse to respect their request, insisting that it’s too difficult and hurtful for you.
Your trans friend/relative has taken a great risk by revealing their identity to you, and they’ve done so because they want and need to stay in relationship with you. For you to refuse to accept them, for you to prioritize your (relatively smaller) pain over theirs, is terribly cruel. Your pain is absolutely valid, but this is not the way to handle it.

Right Thing to Do: Work out your grief issues with a counselor and/or with cis friends, away from your friend/relative.
The person you thought existed is gone, most likely forever. This is going to be very tough for you to deal with, and you absolutely do need to deal with it. But the person who does exist, the person you’ve loved, will need your continuing love and support — and that person is not responsible for your healing. Do whatever you need to do to get to a place where you can relate to them respectfully and lovingly, and do it without placing additional burdens on them.

In short: respect us; care about us; treat us as equals; be willing to learn; be willing to grow. Once you get the hang of it, it’s really not as hard as it seems.

(via gingerbreadcat)

"The main reason I’m offended by the constant questioning of ‘cis’ and people calling it an abusive term, is that it suggests that when we talk about gender, cisgender people are automatically ‘normal’, and transgender people are to be singled out. It posits cisgenderism as the default. As many homo- and bisexual people have said over the years to heterosexual people: you’re not normal, you’re just common."
Intro to cis and why having to write this annoys me | l’esprit-d’escalier (via brute-reason)

(via paraka)

+Urgent : Help a trans woman flee her country to survive

believethelight:

If every one of my followers could give this a signal boost (or donate if they can) that would be really really really important right now !

queensasha24:

transstudent:

We realize that transitioning isn’t for everyone. However, too many people make “regret” claims that simply aren’t true. Take a look. Share on Facebook. Retweet. Learn more (and download the study).

THANK YOU.
consolecadet:

southpawscopic:

feminishblog:


Popular representation of “LGBT,” to scale.

This is a great graphic, representing of a big problem with regards to lgbtq advocacy.

This is painfully accurate. And also explains why asexuality isn’t even listed.

A lot of people I know jokingly say that the T in GLBT is silent. :I :I :I

"jokingly" yay
tomboyfemme:

Saint Harridan - Kickstarting November 23rd, a clothing line of men’s clothing designed to fit women and transmen.
Advice from trans guys who have had top surgery

drakensberg:

  • No aspirin before surgery - it’ll make brusing and swelling worse.
  • Especially before surgery, take shark cartilage, which helps with leukocyte formation, to fight infection.
  • Especially before surgery, take vitamin C 1000 mg w/ bioflavanoids and rutin for tissue integrity.
  • Especially before surgery, take vitamin E - only the natural stuff (the synthetic thins the blood) and not more than your surgeon recommends - taking too much can cause your scars to keloid (those thick, rope-like scars that stick out).
  • Especially before and immediately after surgery, eat a nutritious, high-protein diet.
  • Take button-down pyjamas and button-down shirts with you. You may not be able to get clothing up over your head after surgery, and you don’t want to be raising your arms like that for a while after surgery anyway - keep your elbows below shoulder height for at least a few weeks.
  • The hardest thing after surgery, especially for the first few days, will likely be just getting up and down from beds or chairs or whatever. You use your chest muscles for more than you think, and while your muscles weren’t operated on, they’re still going to be sore - all the more so with the drains in immediately after surgery. Doing workouts to strengthen your abdominal muscles prior to surgery may help make that easier, but you can’t use your abs or your shoulders/arms without using your chest muscles at least a little. Don’t panic! You will, in all likelihood, be able to use the toilet without help, lift a glass of water or a forkful of food, and get in and out of bed. Just take it easy and be very gentle with yourself as you heal.
  • Take some sort of “Wet Ones” or baby wipes so you can keep clean during the time before you’re allowed to shower again. Be careful of using them near the drain holes, though - people have got infections by getting too close. Try to get the flushable kind, which are less likely to contain alcohol or leave you feeling sticky.
  • Get bendable straws in case you’re too sore to lift drinks the first couple of days.
  • While you’re on antibiotics, eat plain yoghurt or take acidophilus tablets to prevent yeast infections (you don’t want those to happen).
  • Have DVDs handy to keep yourself, and anyone taking care of you, entertained. Box sets of your favourite TV shows are ideal. When you’re recovering and on heavy-duty pain medication, you’re not likely to have the attention span for a two-hour film, but a 20-minute TV episode is perfect.
  • Get a loaf of bread and eat a slice every time you take a pain pill, even if you’re not hungry or you just ate something else. The bread will help reduce or even eliminate nausea from the pain medication.
  • Anaesthesia can take a long time to drain out of your body - up to a month or more, especially if you’re sensitive to it. While it’s draining from your body, it can cause significant depression. Talk to your doctor about getting a one-time prescription for antidepressants if this concerns you.
  • If you have scars, once the surgical tape is off your scars, rub cocoa butter on them to help them fade. (That’s after you’ve used up whatever topical scar treatment your surgeon gave you, if any. You may be given a sample-size container of something like Kelocote or Mederma to start you off.)
  • If you have scars, keep your scars out of the sun for a year to prevent keloiding. If you must go out in the sun bare-chested, put white medical tape over your scars - not even the strongest sunscreen can do the job.

(Source: ftmichael.transboys.info, via midoriimakuns)

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